PAW Pekoe Acupuncture and Wellness Center, PLLC Washington, DC Sun, 29 Nov 2015 22:42:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Frustration with Online Booking? Mon, 09 Nov 2015 23:06:51 +0000 We had some feedback about having to enter your information every time you book an appointment online, and we figured out some settings to make your life easier from here on out!

Please select the book now button and log onto your account. Select the “account” hyperlink and enter the required information marked by an “*“.

From then on, every time you book online your information will be auto-filled. You can even enter your credit card information on the secure account page so booking is a breeze! Please note that in order to protect you, credit card information will drop out of the system every three months, so don’t be frustrated if you have to enter that in again at some point. (Credit Card information is taken at the time of booking to hold your appointment. You will not be charged for your treatment until you receive your session, or in the case of a late cancel or no-show.)

We are also in the process of updating our merchant services system so that we can streamline our payment processes. Stay tuned for future enhancements!

Thank you for your patience as we grow, and we appreciate your feedback! We’re pleased to be able to repair systems that are broken, or try to optimize our current systems, so please don’t feel shy about bringing things up. We’re always learning and striving to make things better.

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Q&A with Ashley Greenfield, LMT Tue, 20 Oct 2015 17:31:36 +0000

What inspired you to become a massage therapist?

I started with energy work, Reiki, in Quantico.  I met a lot of military families and discovered touch is a key component to healing.  Especially the women who were staying at home taking care of their families needed a hug or touch to know that someone was there.  With Reiki there is little to no touch and I wanted to be able to touch.  I completed a massage training which created balance in my life and taught me healing on physical and spiritual levels.

How does your intuition and spirituality inform your practice?

The body is made up of many systems but a lot of things originate at the emotional and spiritual levels.   A lot of times we carry stress in our shoulders or our lower backs.  It is not that all of a sudden we get a shoulder or back pain.  We need to get to the deepest level of that pain so we can resolve the other levels.  Whenever I go into a session I try to focus with the intention that I’m working with the musculoskeletal system and I am also working with the deeper layers.   With the energy work I not only hold the energetic space but assess why we are in that space.  What is going on in our lives that could have contributed to the pain.  It’s going to keep knocking at the door until we answer it.

Tell me about your mentor.

I have had many mentors throughout my training and I bring their knowledge into the massage room.   I have also learned a great deal from my clients.  I consider Jeff Kuykendall, a fellow massage therapist at Pekoe, a mentor.  One mentor I talk about a lot is Zoe Moret, an energy mentor who taught me vibrational healing.  She used to be a medical doctor at Harvard.  She believed in healing at multiple levels and taught me that the body can be a map to what is going on within our world.  Every bit of us is cosmic to me.  Every body part has a message. It is more than physical.  Sometimes someone gets a pain and they don’t know why.  They have tried other ways to feel better and it is not working.  So they turn to alternative medicine not just to recover but to heal it.  In this way, we can get to the deepest level of a pain to heal it at the root.   Every therapist who has been doing this work for the while is no longer trying to beat your body into submission.  They are trying to understand the body and work with you so you can do self care as well.   You can have an overall healthier, happier disposition.  A lot of therapists do more than one modality to heal at the different levels.

How does massage support a healthy pregnancy?

With expecting mothers there is a lot of stress and anxiety especially in first time mothers.  Massage can be a relaxing tool for the body and the spirit.  I always begin and end with a focus on the mom and baby recognizing the connection.  The mother is not just a vehicle for the baby but is on a journey going through a transformation.  Postnatal massage is important too because once you have the child you are not taking much time for yourself.  It is a time to relax and let someone take care of you.


Ashley added that there are some important things to consider when you’re going in for a massage. Allow yourself this time and space– you are paying for it and want to get the most of your treatment!

Ashley’s Recommendations to Enhance Your Massage

1.  Breathe! – Most people forget to breathe during a massage/bodywork session.  This is so important to me.  If you feel tension or tightness in an area that is being worked on, try first to breathe into that space and allow your body to relax.  Notice the effects these simple breaths  provide.
2. Allow –  This is your time to relax.  So if we’re going to lift your arm, please don’t help! Here’s why: 1. Your arm or leg may seem extra heavy to you but believe me, they probably aren’t. 2. we are trained therapists and thankfully part of that training was on lifting body parts. 3.Sometimes your assistance is actually blocking the stretch. Let us do the work! The more you Breathe and Allow the easier it will be for your body to release.
3. Relax – Take this time for yourself. How often in the day do you allow your mind to just be completely silent.  Not thinking of what you have to do next?  Give yourself this gift.
4. Hydrate – After a session drink plenty of water  (really just drink plenty of water all the time).  This hydration will help move the fluids  that we’ve begun flushing during the session.  It will tell the body “Hey, I’m trying to let go of some things.
5. Know – Know that you are wonderful.  Some people come into sessions with certain fears about their bodies.  In all the years I’ve been working as a massage therapist and bodyworker, I’ve yet to hear any therapists speak about a person’s body in anyway that doesn’t benefit them. Scars are natural, they say you’ve survived, and believe me we barely noticed.  We’re here so you feel better than when you walked in.  I’m blessed to work in a space where every practitioner is here for your highest good.


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Sleep Compositions Thu, 15 Oct 2015 16:30:04 +0000 Sweet dreams

The famous composer Max Richter has written and recorded a lovely composition for sleeping, napping, and listening to on your own music device during your Pekoe treatments.

The work is called Sleep and is 8 hours long, and there is a 1 hour version (From Sleep) of select tracks available as well. When you purchase the 1 hour disc from Amazon you get a download, plus the high quality of the disc will sound spectacular on your home stereo.

NOT recommended for driving… : )

Need more help with SLEEP? Attend one of our monthly Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra workshops with Christine! We like to call it supervised nap time, but she will also give you some excellent tools for creating your own healthy sleep-mind habits.


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Let off Some Steam Thu, 08 Oct 2015 20:31:43 +0000  

Now is time to get excited. Holy moly, Pekoe has a STEAM SHOWER!!

I had been interested in building a sauna or steam room since we moved to Shaw. We had this really shoddy bathroom downstairs where the vanity wasn’t even attached to the wall, the toilet rocked on top of a large bead of beeswax, and we definitely had enough space to install a shower. We found these magical Biomats that everyone has been talking about, so we didn’t need a sauna any more, and my gym membership at VIDA cinched the decision that I wanted a steam shower. (I build my schedule some days when I work out around using that gosh darned steam room!)

Our lower level bathroom was a large, vastly wasted use of space that Rob Anderson took on from start to glorious finish. We are so pleased with the new addition, and can’t wait to see how it makes your fall and winter cozier.

1 LL Bathroom Before

Bathroom Before

1b LL Bathroom After

Bathroom After!











2 LL Bathroom Before

Bathroom/ Storage?

2b LL Bathroom After













Benefits of Steamy

  • Any time during a common cold process. Feel a cold coming on? Steam can help move it along
  • Difficulty relaxing during treatment can benefit from a steam prior to your session
  • Relief from aches and pains from exercise, heavy training, or after an event
  • Ligaments and tendons are mostly made up of collagen, which starts to soften at 104 degrees so increased heat can really help with soft tissue pain and injury recovery
  • Expectorant to help clear mucus in sinus and lungs
  • Gentle detox through increased sweating


Steam vs. Infrared

  • Both boast great relaxation benefits and relief of painful conditions due to inflammation
  • Steam tends to be a better choice for those with lung conditions, but do ask your practitioner which they recommend. The Infrared is already on the table during your regular treatments!
  • Some are intolerant to humidity, or suffer rheumatoid arthritis or asthma. In this case the steam may not be a good choice
  • Steam followed by a cold shower, and then alternating between hot and cold, is an excellent way to boost metabolism and strengthen immunity! Just don’t get chilled, otherwise you’re inviting a cold


Treatment Possibilities

  • Our Ayurvedic services use a lot of warm oils, and are best when done before a hot steam for maximum benefit
  • Use before or after your regular bodywork treatment to enhance your session, or if you have difficulty relaxing during treatments
  • If you feel a cold coming on, let us know and we’ll get you in the steam shower before your treatment to open things up and make your session more comfortable
  • Book as a stand alone treatment– just come in and relax. Shower and move on….

Please note: Steamy is NOW available to book online! Please call or email if you have any questions!

Please use caution when you are using any type of heat therapy, especially those with hypertension, low blood pressure, heart conditions, pregnancy, epilepsy, or certain medications. Please limit your time when first starting heat therapies as your body acclimates to the new treatment. Make sure to drink lots of water and feel free to ask us about proper preparation and follow through with any treatment!

Please stay tuned for our Steam Shower Instructions and Process page to learn more about how steamy can enhance your treatment, or how you can use it as a stand alone treatment.

*ALSO Coming Soon* SPA DAYS! Buy the spa on a Saturday or Sunday and your group (up to six) will enjoy six hours, five treatments (including Steamy!), refreshments and bubbly!

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As the Dust Settles Sun, 13 Sep 2015 19:27:31 +0000 For the past year Pekoe has been slowly undergoing renovation, and we’ve finally reached the end of our Great Streets Grant work. It’s been a roller coaster ride but now we get to put everything back in place, dust ourselves off, and enjoy the rewards of all our hard work.

Our first grant push started in August 2014, where we repaired some walls in the lower level treatment rooms, built our Great Wall of Yoga, and installed some equipment to help with our patients with poor mobility. We were able to purchase new treatment tables for our upper level treatment rooms, which have really helped with our increased patient load and preventing repetitive stress injuries to our practitioners, and created a more safe and comfortable treatment situation for our clients.

new fixtures

Grab Bars in Bathroom

wheelchair ramp to entry

Ramp to Entry!

josh on stairs

Josh heading downstairs for the first time!

Hydraulic Treatment Tables

Hydraulic Treatment Tables









We were able to extend our grant award funds to 2015, and once we were given the green light in May we scheduled construction for soundproofing, weather proofing, signage, painting, and remodeling the lower level bathroom. During the planning stage, we were stuck trying to decide if we wanted to install a combo steam shower or an infrared dry sauna, and a colleague turned us on to an infrared table warmer which made our decision easy. We were able to purchase these Biomat table warmers for each room as well as the reflexology chair AND we were able to install a steam shower! Holy moly, this is getting serious.

LL biomat naked


biomat mini

Biomat on the Reflexology/Foot Bath Chair!










The work did cause some disruption to services– we shut down for a week and took up a room at the Cambria Inn and Suites across the street so we could keep treating our acupuncture patients. It was a bit chaotic, but everyone was so patient with us that we cannot complain! Most of the work had to be done after hours or in the wee morning, which was really difficult for our contractor and his crew, so there were a few days where we got in each others way. We hope the noise didn’t bother you too much! And we hope Anderson Design & Build enjoyed being with us!

I could go on and on, but I should let you see it for yourselves:

  •  All treatment room walls were buffered with sound deadening rubber and an extra layer of drywall. Two of our rooms’ ceilings were also soundproofed!


M2 During








  • New Exterior Paint!! Meditative blue with white and grey accent. We were looking a little rough around the edges…..

4a Exterior Before4b Exterior After










1a Front Facade Before_11b Front Facade After










facade beforefacade after










  • New Signage!!

signage afterinterior pekoe










  • Lower Level Bathroom Remodel Before and After!!

1 LL Bathroom Before1b LL Bathroom After










2 LL Bathroom Before 2b LL Bathroom After











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Let Us Help With Repetitive Stress Wed, 19 Aug 2015 13:07:02 +0000 Do any of you remember the Charlie Chaplin movie Modern Times? It’s the story of a factory worker who is forced to test a new piece of equipment (essentially the conveyor belt,) and since he spends all his time doing the same thing over and over and over again, he slowly has a nervous breakdown and gets sent to the insane asylum.

That was actually a real problem back in the days where we used to make things here. Labor Unions actually helped to provide factory workers with decent salaries, and that helped alleviate things somewhat, but the fact remained that people spent hours essentially doing the same thing over and over and over again.

image of factory workers working on assembly line ** Note: Slight graininess, best at smaller sizes

Almost every blue collar town had an enormous amount of guys with bad backs and trick knees. If you lived in a town with a lot of assembly line work, there were more men of working age who were limping than weren’t. And aside from the physical problems, repetitive physical labor also had a tendency to aggravate the psyche of workers (as illustrated by Mr. Chaplin.)

These twinges and aches and pains are called “repetitive stress injuries.” These are different than an injury that happens all at once. These are aches and pains and strains that build up over time, often by using one particular part of your body to do the same thing over and over again. Sometimes people with repetitive stress injuries sort of become used to them, and don’t even view them as something that needs to be treated, and that’s when they lead to even more severe injuries and conditions.

There might not be a lot of manufacturing jobs left in the United States, particularly in the DC area. But there are still a lot of repetitive stress injuries cropping up. The repetitive stress injuries we see these days have a tendency to be micro rather than macro. For instance, a conveyor belt worker at a Chrysler plant in 1979 would have repetitive stress injuries in his knees, wrists, and back. Nowadays, we see repetitive stress injuries that reflect the work that people are doing now. Graphic designers get wrist and finger strains from operating a mouse 8 to 10 hours a day. Everyone gets sore thumbs from sending a million texts and posting 100 tweets every day. People get severe headaches from staring at screens all day, or their necks and backs are sore from hunching over their PC’s at work.

You might be thinking that this sort of thing is no big deal, and you would be wrong. In the first place, any strain or injury should be treated. Also, not treating a strain or injury will not only make the injury worse, but will probably lead to other injuries. If my wrist starts to constantly hurt due to working my mouse, I will start to favor that wrist, and perhaps start using the muscles in my forearm to work the mouse instead. My forearm is now being used over and over again in ways that it isn’t used to, so now it’s starting to hurt as well. So in not treating the initial problem, I’ve given myself two problem areas for the price of one.

So what to do regarding those aches and pains in your fingers and wrists that seem unavoidable if you want to make a living? Do you just “muscle through it,” in the hopes that it will magically get better on its own?

Of course not.

Massage and acupuncture are two great ways to help treat your repetitive stress injuries. Both are effective at relieving pain from using the same muscle group in the same constricted and limited ways over and over again, and both are effective at relaxing those muscle groups so they are under less stress and strain. So in terms of helping with repetitive stress injuries, acupuncture and massage can both prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Here’s our recommendation: First, if you are coming in here on a regular basis for massage or acupuncture, and your job involves repetitive motion, let your practitioner know. Tell them specifically what you do, and more importantly, tell them how you do it. They can not only treat those muscle groups, but can also give you some ideas as to how to conserve those muscle groups while you work. It’s preventive maintenance at its finest.

Series of female office worker doing stretching exercises ideal for use as promoting healthier lifestyle for those working in office condition.

Your way of earning a living doesn’t have to wreck your health and comfort. Come see us as soon as you can, tell us about your work, and let us set a course of treatment for you.


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Postnatal Services at Pekoe Wed, 19 Aug 2015 02:43:23 +0000 Here’s what we know about childbirth: It hurts.

We can say that with some certainty, as many of your practitioners here at Pekoe have given birth. Some of us have done so on more than one occasion.

Yes, it’s amazing. Yes, you are loaded with hormones that initially distract you from the pain, and many of you might have even had an epidural, which made the experience a lot less painful than it might have been, but at the end of the day, you just brought a living being out of your body and into the world, and that is not something that happens without a twinge here or there.

It hurts to sit, particularly if you had an episiotomy. It hurts to walk. And if you have quite wisely decided to breast feed your baby, that hurts as well. Your legs probably hurt. Your lower back hurts. Your nipples and breasts hurt. Plus you probably aren’t sleeping much, what with your baby needing to be fed every two hours.

This is simultaneously the greatest and most physically painful event that has ever happened to you. So aside from chugging Advil and lying around on your back, is there anything that you can do to speed up the healing process?

Yes, there absolutely is.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbs will help. So will massage. You can choose one or the other or all of them together, and this will help you recover faster and just plain feel better.

Acupuncture and Chinese Herbs

When a woman gives birth, she uses an incredible amount of energy. So much so that the average recovery period is around 6 weeks. It might be longer if she went into the pregnancy deficient, or had a great deal of morning sickness. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs can help get your natural healing energy back into gear. They can help with aches, realigning the digestive system, ease that sense of heaviness in your hands and feet, that overall sense of fatigue, increase blood flow to help reduce swelling and heal injury, and they can help with speeding up and stabilizing your lactation process. Oh, and you get to be alone and rest in blissful quiet.


Aside from the obvious and immediate benefit of massage (it feels amazing,) postpartum massage will relax your muscles, alleviate your stress levels, increase and improve your blood circulation, and increase prolactin and oxytocin levels, which also helps stimulate and improve breastfeeding. We also highly recommend baby massage (coming soon to Pekoe!) to help fussy babies, sleep, colic symptoms, bonding, and general well-being. Manisha Tare at Falling Leaf Wellness does a great job of teaching parents how to do baby massage and also offers Mommy and Me yoga classes!


We want you to be at your best when you are caring for your new arrival, and that means we want you to help your body recover from the enormous physical expenditure that is giving birth. Come see us as soon as you can. You’ll feel the difference immediately.


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Working on Seasonal Affective Disorder Starts Now Wed, 19 Aug 2015 02:35:59 +0000 Yes, it’s summer. Yes, it’s hot. Yes, the sun doesn’t go down until 8:00 PM. Yes, the birds are singing and the mosquitos are buzzing and the Nationals are playing and it’s as humid as all get out. So why would you start worrying about the winter right now?

To be sure, there are some things that can be left for later. You don’t have to go to Home Depot and buy ten pounds of driveway salt (although it’s significantly cheaper now.) You don’t have to put up that weatherproofing on your windows (although it would probably help keep the air-conditioning in and save you money on your cooling bills.) You don’t have to have your winter coats cleaned now (although it would probably save you a lot of time, and you wouldn’t have to go through a few days of freezing while you are waiting for it to come back from the cleaners.)

Actually, you know what? You should do all of those things now. It will save you time and money and make your life easier in the long run. And here’s what else you should do: If you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, start your treatment now.

If you have SAD, we don’t have to explain to you what it is. If you don’t have it, you might recognize it in your friends, family, or loved ones. It’s been called “Winter Blues” and “Winter Depression” for decades, and it’s actually listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. So yes, it’s a real thing.

Shortly after Daylight Savings Time ends, and it starts to get dark around 5 pm, and the only time you really see much of what sun there is in the sky is during your commute to work, and when the sun is actually out it’s hazy and gray, sufferers of SAD start to go through real and significant bouts of depression, with everything terrible that depression brings with it; withdrawal from family and friends, loss of appetite (or sometimes bouts of serious overeating,) loss of sex drive, apathy or feelings of hopelessness, and all the other symptoms that make winter much worse than it has to be.

girl with umbrella on the ocean shore, melancholia concept

As many of you who struggle with depression already know, it isn’t something that can be treated overnight. And a problem with treating SAD is that by the time the treatment starts resulting in benefits for the patient, winter is practically over. Patient A comes in to see us in mid-January while in the throes of SAD depression. We start with acupuncture, massage, or Chinese herbs, and by the time Patient A starts to feel like himself again, it’s getting on towards April. We’re certainly glad that we could help, but wouldn’t it have been better to have helped Patient A bypass that bout with SAD in the first place?

If you are a DC resident who routinely suffers from SAD, we highly recommend that you get in to see us now, when it’s still warm outside. We can do a full lab analysis, prepare a diet plan for you, get you started on Chinese herbs and supplements, start acupuncture treatments, and do everything we can to help you either drastically lessen your SAD or even help you avoid it entirely.

Think of it as the fable of the ant and the grasshopper. The ant did the work early and made it through the winter. The grasshopper didn’t. Come see us, ok?

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Rethinking RICE: A Better Way to Treat Injuries Thu, 16 Jul 2015 21:43:39 +0000 Have you ever a big old nasty sprained ankle? Have you ever limped into the doctor’s office for treatment? Have you ever heard the acronym RICE? We are willing to bet that you have.

RICE is considered the go-to treatment for sprained ankles and various other body parts. Here’s what it means:

Rest: Rest the sprain by keeping off of it. Don’t put weight on it. Lay around on the couch if you can.

Ice: Ice it down to keep the swelling down. Keep the ice directly off the skin, though, and only do it for about 20 minutes at a time, because you might get frostbite.

Compression: Wrap it up! Get a pressure bandage on it!

Elevation: Prop your foot above the waist if you are sitting, or above the head if you are lying down. This slows the blood flow to the affected area.

Get it? Lie down! Wrap it up! Dump ice on it! Stick your leg in the air! And wait! And maybe the doctor will give you some anti-inflammatory medicine if you’re lucky. So the end result of all this is that it’s supposed to cause the swelling and inflammation in your ankle to go away quicker, and if that happens, that means that your ankle will have totally healed, because the swelling is the key sign that your ankle is sprained, right?

Actually, no. We are not big fans of the RICE method of sprain healing, (or treating any other form of injury) and if you’ll bear with us, we will be glad to tell you why.

Inflammation and Swelling Serve a Purpose

When you sprain your ankle, that swelling that occurs is not merely decorative in nature. It’s actually serving a pretty important function. Swelling is increased blood flow to an injured area, it also causes a sort of barrier to keep stuff around the affected area, like a dam. Blood has this wonderful tendency to go and congregate where it is most needed. And it is definitely needed in an injury. So why on earth would you want the swelling to go down when it’s needed to help heal?

And why would you want anti-inflammatory drugs when inflammation helps the healing process work quicker? See this article on NSAIDS.

Ice, compression, and elevation all slow down the blood flow to a sprained ankle. And while you might be thinking that rest is the one thing here that works, but that isn’t effective either. Resting does nothing to help you rehabilitate your injury or get its strength back.

In other words, RICE actually gets in the way of allowing the body to heal sprains.

By the way, we aren’t just pulling this out of thin air. There has been quite a bit of dispute in medical rehabilitation circles recently about whether RICE is effective, or whether it’s the exact opposite of effective. And interestingly enough, one person doing a lot of the disputing is the guy who actually came up with the RICE acronym back in 1978. Dr. Gabe Mirkin wrote a book called Sports Medicine Book that’s still in use today, and at the time, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation seemed to be the obvious way of doing things.

But thinking can change in medicine, and so can evidence. Dr. Mirkin is now of the opinion that isn’t the way to go about it. In an article on his website, Dr. Mirkin cites several studies that contradict his earlier recommendations, including the following:

  • “The National Athletics Trainers Association found that ice was an over-simplified method and NOT effective at speeding up the healing process for a sprained ankle…It also recommends that you skip compression, which had no real impact on recovery….the study found that exercise helped to maintain blood flow and flexibility to the injured ankle, both of which are proven to speed up recovery.”
  • The Journal of Athletic Training published a study that found “when muscle tissues cool from icing the skin, blood vessels constrict and shut off the blood flow that brings in healing cells…After the ice is removed, the blood may then return, but the blood vessels may not open for many hours after the ice application…this research team found that this can cause the tissue to die due to lack of blood flow. It can also lead to temporary or permanent nerve damage and disability in the individual or athlete.
  • The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that “tissue that is damaged through trauma or vigorous exercise requires inflammation…When muscles and other tissues are damaged, your body sends inflammatory cells to the damaged tissue to promote healing.”

The point of all this is that conventional wisdom no longer seems so conventional. So what do you do for a sprained ankle, and how can Pekoe help you with this?

The first step is to let the swelling and inflammation happen. Yes, it’s painful, and yes it looks ugly, but this is part of the healing process. Its okay to use ice shortly after the injury, as ice can help numb pain, but only use it for a short period of time (no more than twenty minutes.) Do not sit around with a bag of ice on your ankle all day. That won’t do you any good, and could actually hurt you. Your doctor will probably recommend you do some light movement to help with strength and rehabilitation, and you should definitely do what he says.

Second, come see us. We can use acupuncture treatment to increase blood flow and help with inflammation (which is actually good for you and promotes healing.) We can also help move the process along with Chinese herbs and massage treatments.

We really hope that you don’t sprain your ankle. It hurts and it’s inconvenient. But we want you to heal as quickly as possible, and it looks like RICE isn’t the way to go about it.

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Q&A with Liana Brooks-Rubin, L.AC., M.AC., RYT-500 Thu, 16 Jul 2015 20:57:33 +0000 Q: Do you just do acupuncture at Pekoe, or do you have other specialties?

I do acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, and private yoga therapy.

So you pretty much run the whole gamut of services at Pekoe. Almost everything they offer, you do.

I do a lot of it, but I mainly focus on acupuncture and Chinese herbs, and those two categories are very much in lockstep. I have about 90% of my patients using herbs. I don’t typically do separate groups for acupuncture or Chinese herbs, because what normally happens is that someone will come and see me for acupuncture, and once we get to a point where there’s progress, Chinese herbs will usually help things along. And I don’t think I’m unique in that. Herbs and acupuncture are the two pillars of Chinese medicine. They usually go together.

How did you get started in acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

My first career was as a diplomat/humanitarian at the State Department. I traveled to a lot of war zones and difficult places, and I started to develop insomnia and anxiety, and various other PTSD-like symptoms. I started practicing yoga, and that helped tremendously, and then a friend recommended acupuncture, and that helped even more.  So I got my interest in acupuncture through my own symptoms, and through the example of what acupuncture did for me personally. And as I was progressing through my career at the State Department, I was working in the Refugees Bureau, and it was humanitarian work that I cared about greatly, but I wanted to switch to something where I could help people directly.

The idea being that the Refugees Bureau was important, but it was policy, and there were a lot of things regarding outcomes that were out of your control.

Right. And at the time I was fascinated with Chinese medicine, and I was reading books on Chinese herbs and Ayurveda while I was becoming a yoga teacher, and I was talking to my friends in acupuncture, and they all said “Just make the leap. Just do it.” And that seemed crazy to me, because I was already a manager at State. But they correctly pointed out that I was miserable, so I quit my job and went back to school, and that was that.

How long ago was this?

That was about five years ago. And honestly, it’s great that I’m practicing in Washington, DC, because I have a great understanding of what many of them are going through.

You come from the same peer group.

Yes. I get it. I really do. I understand the pressure and the need for perfection and the frustration of things not turning out the way you hoped for reasons that are completely beyond your control. So I feel that I can both provide them with relief and also show them other possibilities. Bear in mind, I’m not saying that they should all quit their jobs and do something else, but I can at least offer perspectives on how to make choices that don’t make you ill.

When you were going through your PTSD symptoms, did it ever occur to you to try antidepressants or any other pharmaceutical treatments?

I really didn’t want to go down that route. I thought to myself, “If it gets to be really then I’ll try the chemical route,” but in a really short period of time with the yoga and acupuncture, I started feeling better, so I didn’t have to. Believe me, I did talk therapy, and there were a lot of suggestions that I start with the pharmaceuticals, but I was resistant. I got acupuncture once a week, plus I was having massages and doing yoga every day, and meditation in between all of those things. And it’s not as if the bad stuff just never comes up, but the acupuncture and the yoga and the massages helped keep it from taking over my life.

Where did you go to school for acupuncture?

I went to Maryland University of Integrative Health, which was the first accredited acupuncture school in the country. My main reason for going there was that I was already settled and married with kids, and my husband’s job was here, so I didn’t even think about other options. It’s a pretty rigorous 4-year program with acupuncture and herbs, and a lot of clinical requirements. Going there was an easy decision. Honestly, if I were younger and single and the world were my oyster, I would have considered somewhere else, but this worked out perfectly.

How did you end up at Pekoe?

When I was first teaching yoga, I was at a studio with a naturopathic doctor, and she had an office in a corner of the studio, and we stayed in touch over the years. I was practicing in Maryland for a while, but we were moving from Maryland into DC, and it made sense to try to move my practice as well, also because in DC there are fewer acupuncturists per capita. So I contacted my doctor friend, and she recommended me to Nicole and Dalila. I came here, and I loved the space and I loved the neighborhood, and it felt like I was right where I needed to be. It was a done deal. A lot of studios are located in generic office buildings around Farragut.

Sure. It feels like you’re going to get audited.

Right. But with Pekoe I walk in and I think “I’m at work. I love it here.” It’s such a different feeling. The environment here is a lot better, and people can feel it the second they walk in the door. It feels home-like, but also spa-like. It’s not too home-like, where it feels like you are sitting in someone’s living room, but it’s also not sterile or professional to the point of being completely impersonal.

Are you from the DC area originally?

I spent half my childhood in Massachusetts, and the other half in Tuscon, Arizona. Then I lived overseas for several years while I was in the State Department. But I’ve lived here since 1999.

Was it a bit of a culture shock between Massachusetts and Tucson and overseas and then here?

Tucson is a very special place, but it’s also very insular. When I came back to the East Coast, I was a bit shocked, because people didn’t always make eye contact, there wasn’t the same amount of warmth. And I remember thinking that I was going to have a hard time living in this part of the country. But then I acclimated to it, and I fell in love with DC. It’s a diverse city, and there’s a huge variety of occupations and level of expertise here. In a place like Tucson, everyone is a healer and everyone has their shingle out, so I like surveying this community and feeling like I’m doing something unique.

Do you still keep your head in the policy game a little bit?

Well, for many years after I resigned, and even when I was in school and hadn’t started practicing full time, I still did contracting work. I haven’t done that for three or four years now, but as a result of staying connected I’m still friends with a lot of my former colleagues. So I pay attention from the sidelines, but I can’t say I’m still involved. I’ll see what’s happening, and then I’ll roll my eyes and say “well, nothings really changed.” That magic wand hasn’t been found yet.

What do you like about practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine?

No matter what the case involves, no matter what someone is coming in for, whether it’s a tight shoulder or knee pain or a complex endocrine disorder, I never look at one symptom and just address that. I try to help them understand how the lifestyle choices that they make affect them and determine what’s manifesting physically. And in most cases, I find that if I work with them for quite a while they reach that conclusion on their own, but I’m really keen on helping people understand their agency in healing, and helping them empower themselves. I like it when my patients feel like they can come to me as much as they need to, but they don’t feel like they are dependent on the needles and the herbs, because ultimately there’s not much of a difference between that mindset and a doctor just refilling the same prescription over and over again.

Is there any kind of case that you’ve had where you’ve seen remarkable transformation due to your treatment over a period of time?

Oh, there are a lot. I work with a lot of fertility patients. A lot of them have cycles that aren’t regular, because many of them have been on birth control pills for years, and they don’t get their periods back, or they developed ovarian cysts. So there have been some occasions where a woman hasn’t had her period in a year, and then she starts menstruating after being on Chinese herbs for a month. Or there are cases where a woman has been trying to conceive and has been unsuccessful, and I’ve been able to help her through it. And then there are cases where I have a patient with a chronic disease, and it’s very gratifying to help them get through that. I have one woman with ALS, and she’s come in every week for the past year, and I’m helping to alleviate a lot of those symptoms, and doing everything that I can to slow down the progression of the disease, and the progression of the disease is remarkably slow. You can’t stop ALS in its tracks, but we’ve been able to really slow it down.

So you are finding that helping people specifically is better than helping in the abstract?

Sure. I’d go write these memos and go brief Congress, and maybe something would happen, but there were often so many other factors at play that had nothing to do with what I was doing, and with this I can see the tangible benefits of my actions reflected in the patients that I see.

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